I was at a restaurant when I ordered the “Blaze Burger.” Distracted by conversation, people watching, and my own gluttony, I was nearly finished before I realized that this unholy meat pile wasn’t quite right. Soon nausea, that loathed sensation, set in. I tried all the strategies I’ve previously used to get rid of nausea, but nothing worked. I finally surrendered, on bended knee, before the porcelain throne.
But food poisoning is just one of countless causes of nausea; in many cases vomiting won’t cure it. Motion sickness, morning sickness, medications, indigestion, stress, the flu, infection, overeating, booze, dehydration, vertigo, gastritis, and illness or underlying disease—the sources of nausea are too numerous to list. Obviously, you should address the cause, but there are many practical ways to get rid of nausea, regardless of its specific trigger. You’ll find these nausea treatments and strategies below.
Nausea and Dehydration
If nausea leads to vomiting, dehydration can occur if you don’t get liquids back into your system. This is especially important for children. Drinking sports drinks, or an oral electrolyte solution like Pedialyte, will ensure essential minerals, nutrients, and fluids are recovered quickly.
Getting Rid of Nausea at Home
Use OTC antiemetic (anti-nausea) drugs to get rid of nausea. Antiemetics work to suppress nausea and vomiting, and a few are available without a prescription. Pink bismuth (Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate) protectively coats the stomach and intestines, reducing inflammation and irritation. Emetrol (sugar and phosphoric acid) is great for relieving nausea caused by the flu or overeating; it’s also the only OTC drug recommended for morning sickness. If you suffer from motion sickness, try Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) or Bonine (meclizine hydrochloride), antihistamines that prevent nausea when taken prior to travel.
Use an herbal antiemetic to get rid of nausea. The most popular herbal nausea treatment is ginger, which is often recommended for motion sickness, morning sickness, and upset stomach. If you’re pregnant, work out exact daily dosages with your doctor (250 mg four times daily is often recommended). If supplements aren’t your thing, try nibbling on some ginger, sipping ginger ale, cooking with ginger, or killing gingerbread men. Another popular herbal nausea treatment is peppermint, which is most often taken as a tea, but peppermint oil or lozenges also work well.
Drinking clear liquids and eating bland foods is best, but trust your stomach. Stay away from solids for a few hours after you’ve vomited. Slowly drink water and other liquids such as flat soda, ice chips, fruit juice (avoid acidic fruits like orange juice), and non-caffeinated sports drinks. Next, try foods that are mostly water—Jell-O, soup, applesauce, and Popsicles. If all goes well, move on to bland foods: whole-wheat crackers, noodles, rice, toast, potatoes, bananas, baked chicken. Stay away from foods that are fried, spicy, processed, stinky, canned, or fast.
Avoid nausea triggers. Once it’s gained momentum, it’s very hard to get rid of nausea. Therefore, it’s important to avoid nausea triggers, especially when feeling ill. Common nausea triggers include strong odors, stuffy rooms, perfume, humidity, flashing lights, smoke, driving, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, or anything that seems to worsen your situation. Hunger pangs and feelings of fullness can also trigger nausea. This is why many experts recommend eating six to eight smaller meals, rather than three large ones.
Get some rest and relaxation. Nausea is one of those common maladies that get worse with activity. Don’t try to battle through or you’ll just end up in the bathroom. When you’re feeling nauseated, find a quiet place to rest, but be sure to keep your head slightly elevated (10‒12 inches above your feet). Emotional stress and anxiety can also worsen nausea and are sometimes are even the root cause. Make time for relaxation. If you need help getting stress and anxiety under control, seek out formal therapy—cognitive behavioral therapy may be particularly helpful.
Natural Nausea Remedies
Fresh air. Stinky, dank rooms and strong odors can easily bring about nausea or take it to that wretched next level. This is especially true for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. Be sure to open windows and air out rooms whenever possible. Use natural air fresheners like baking soda sachets instead of noxious sprays that merely mask smells.
Bananas. Bananas are great for preventing nausea as well as recovering from it. They stimulate the production of a protective mucus layer in the stomach, shielding it from acidic substances that cause nausea and heartburn. Bananas are also a very bland food, easy to eat when ill, and they are loaded with B6 (often prescribed for morning sickness) and potassium, an important electrolyte lost through vomiting or diarrhea.
Vomiting. I try to avoid multi-colored yawns when I can, but throwing up is a completely natural defense against harmful toxins in the body. If you suspect food poisoning is causing nausea, don’t be afraid to let nature do its thing. You can also use your index finger to speed things along. Sometimes it’s the quickest way to get rid of nausea.
Acupressure. Many people suffering from motion sickness and morning sickness swear by acupressure. Acupressure bracelets (Sea Bands, for example), available at any drugstore, stimulate a certain nerve that interrupts nausea-causing brain signals. But you can save money and stimulate this nerve on your own. Place your thumb two finger widths down from your wrist between the two prominent tendons. Press down relatively hard for a minute and switch to the other hand.
Medical Marijuana. If you’re experiencing nausea due to disease like AIDS or an aggressive medical treatment such as chemotherapy, you might benefit from medical marijuana. In countless studies it has proven to be an effective nausea treatment and appetite stimulant; however, there is still much stigma surrounding this plant, and it is only medicinally-available in fourteen states.
Medical Nausea Treatment
In the vast majority of cases, nausea isn’t serious; however, it can be a symptom of an underlying illness or disorder. Consult a doctor right away if you: haven’t been able to keep anything down for 12 hours (8 for children), are nauseated for more than two days, have a terrible, unusual headache, are vomiting blood (or vomit is green), feel week or dizzy, have a stiff neck, fever, chest pain, clammy skin, or blurred vision.
But it doesn’t need to be an emergency to see your doctor. If you’re suffering from morning sickness, motion sickness, or are just prone to nausea, your doctor can run tests (x-rays, blood tests, urinalysis, etc.) and can also procure prescription antiemetic drugs.